Sunday, 16 March 2014

Beyond Sushi - Manhattan, New York

Beyond Sushi actually ended up in my top 5 places we ate at whilst in New York. It's a 100% vegan sushi place - and really, wow - I tried some sushi combinations I've never seen before anywhere else.

We ate:

Nutty Buddy - Wrap; Buckwheat Noodles, Crushed Peanuts, Cilantro, Jalapeño Peanut Butter, Avocado, Sesame Oil, Carrots, Baked Tofu and Romaine Lettuce. Served with Sweet Soy Mirin Sauce.

Mighty Mushroom - 8 pieces Six Grain Rice - Enoki - Shiitake - Tofu - Micro Arugula. Served with Shiitake Teriyaki Sauce.

La Fiesta - 8 pieces Black Rice - Avocado - Pickled Jalapeño - Chayote - Cilantro Leaf. Served with Mango Chili Sauce.

Classic Miso Soup - Classic Miso Soup with Wakame and Silken Tofu

English Cucumber and Mint Lemonade   

I can actually say I really enjoyed everything I tried. The branch we went to was quite small and only had limited seating with about three tables, but we seemed to be lucky and not visit at a busy time as two out of the three were empty although lots of people came in for take away whilst we were there.

It really is an experience you won't find elsewhere, and it has made the regular vegan sushi found in the UK seem so boring in comparison!

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Candle 79 - New York

Candle 79 was one of the restaurants I was REALLY looking forward to eating at whilst in New York. It was on both mine and Mr B's 'must do' lists. We booked ahead, which I'd really recommend doing as when we visited in the evening it was really quite busy. We were seated upstairs by the window.

I had the Seitan Piccata and Mr B had the Spaghetti and Wheat Balls. We also had starters and puddings, but it was quite dark inside so incredibly difficult to get pictures of anything! We also had a few cocktails from their bar downstairs.

 (an incredibly bad low light picture of our Mojito type cocktails!)

All the food was lovely, and this style of dining is nothing something you encounter too often at vegan places. Everything we ate was heavily seitan based (wheat), although their website states that they also do gluten free. Saying that, the seitan was amazing and like nothing I've ever tried before (certainly nothing comes close in the UK).
It was a one of a kind dining experience, but I actually ended up favoring Candle Cafe.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Meridian Nut Butters

I have a confession to make - before I had Small I didn't really like nut butters. I'd sometimes put some in a smoothie, or buy a jar to use in baking - but I'd never eat it in any way that the taste really came through. Then when Small started eating they started to appear more and more in our cupboards. Concentrated sources of fat are really important for vegan kids as it's very easy for them to eat too much fiber and not enough calories if you don't pay attention.
When I first started looking for a nut butter which was suitable for her, I actually found it surprisingly difficult. They all contained lots of added salt and oil. We relied on the fresh stuff from Wholefoods for a while, but as we actually don't live very close to a branch at all this wasn't a proper solution.
I found the Meridian ones first in Holland & Barrett whilst looking for some low salt yeast spread (theirs has added B12 too), then discovered most supermarkets sell at least the almond butter if not the full range.
She loves all three of the nut butters, but the cashew and almond are her favorites. It goes on toast, in porridge and makes a good dip for vegetable fingers and rice cakes.
I was kindly sent these samples to try and now not only does Small love them, but I do too. They're available in some supermarkets, Holland & Barrett and independent health food shops.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

London & Brighton Weekend

I said before how amazing it is that we have a family flat we can use in London. It's so nice to get away for the weekend and enjoy all the vegan treats on offer. Mr B actual spends a lot of time in the city for work, so knows and hears of all the best spots.
We arrived on Friday night and once again ordered a pizza from Basilico. The combination of the vegan cheese they use and the woodfired base makes for a really good pizza, and well you know they deliver to the flat and all so it'd be rude not to.

On Saturday we decided to jump on the train to Brighton. After navigating the DLR and several tube stations with a pushchair it only took an hour once on the Brighton bound train.

After arriving and scoffing vegan cake at Infinity we had a walk along he seafront and a look around the shops. As Small has a habit of doing, she slept through it!

We took Small to Terre a Terre for the first time too. As we thought it'd be better to take her at lunchtime we booked in for afternoon tea. I actually forgot to check if they had a kid's menu, but was really happy with what they had. In terms of being child friendly the whole experience was excellent - large kids menu with plenty of vegan items, highchairs, kids cutlery and a large clean baby-change area. She had a kid's VO rosti with tomato and sesame crusted tofu.

This is where I admit for forgetting to take a picture of our afternoon tea. Visually, it was amazing and came in a three layered stand with savory on the bottom, then a cake selection and scones with jam and vegan cream. Here is everything it came with;

Vegan Terre à Tier Tea  - £18.95 per person 
Three tiers offering savoury, scones and sweet and a choice of tea or coffee pot!
Savoury Tier: Hibiscus, amchur, nori salt dusted puffed rice seaweed cracker with wasabi and yuzu pesto, sesame ginger dressed Arame Wakame vegetable thread salad.
Arepas Chilli Candy- deep fried corn cakes rolled in spice dust served with chilli chelly jelly, avocado hash,oregano and lime mojo and a candied chilli.
Idli rice buns with coconut green chilli curry leaf chutney and tamarind sauce.
Sweet Tier: 
Chocolate truffle cake and chocolate drizzle.
Orange Polenta Cake with pistachio crumble, candied orange and pomegranates.
Cinnamon sugar spice dusted doughnut straws with chocolate sauce.
Snappy pistachio wafers with vodka cherries.
Rich prune and chocolate almond tartine.
Traditional Tier: Tea Soaked Sultana Scones served with Terre a Terre jams and oatmeal cream 
Served with a Pot of Coffee or Tea!

It was a really enjoyable experience - I'd tried a few of the items on previous visits as part of tapas plates or meals, but they worked well included in the afternoon tea. I loved the savory items and the scones as well as the 'cinnamon sugar spice doughnut', but actually wasnt keen on the rest of the sweet tier. The doughnut is the same as the churros on their dinner menu, but the 'chocolate sauce' we had was much more like chocolate spread so difficult to dip. 

It was a gorgeous day so after our tea we headed back to the seafront for a walk. It wasn't exactly warm enough for a paddle, but for March it was super sunny.

On Sunday we were back in London and after an amazing breakfast at Black Cat Cafe we headed to the V&A Museum of Childhood. We managed to park for free and the museum is also free entry.

They've a good mixture of exhibits in cases as well as interactive ones to keep children occupied. They have packs you can also borrow from the information desk tailored to lots of age groups to keep kids entertained.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Infinity Brighton

Infinity Foods is a vegetarian cooperative based in Brighton. They have a cafe, as well as a large food store with an in house bakery based in the North Laines. I've been to their cafe and shop quite a few times before. I love the store as you can find items you might not find in regular health food shops (especially not in the midlands).

They have a good range of vegan options on the menu, a breakfast in the earlier part of the day and a selection of vegan and gluten free cakes. I have to confess with all the other vegan food in the area I've never tried their savory stuff, but we almost always stop in for coffee and cake.

I think I'm also guilty of always choosing the carrot cake when they have it! This was during my birthday trip last November...

 and this is the one I had on Saturday. They have outdoor seating as well as several levels inside - even if it's been a bit of a squeeze we've always found somewhere to sit. 

Mr B also got some vegan focaccia from their instore bakery which I had a nibble of. They also do take away vegan and gluten free vegan pizza slices!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Coconut Rice Pudding - Vegan, Gluten Free, Toddler Friendly

I make this often as although it has a long cooking time, it only takes minutes to prepare and pop in the oven. Small and I really love this rice pudding - it's really good served hot, but also cold with fruit purée. This makes enough for three good portions. If it doesn't look like there is enough rice, trust me there is! You'd be surprised how much the rice expands/ liquid evaporates! 


100g pudding rice
1 can coconut milk
1 can water
5 TBSP of agave syrup (or about 50g granulated sugar)

Place all ingredients in an oven dish and stir everything together. Cook at 160C for about an hour and a half. Stir a few times throughout cooking - May need an extra 20 minutes depending on your oven.

The Gallery Cafe - Bethnal Green, London

During our London visit last weekend we went to the V&A Museum of Childhood and afterwards stopped by the Gallery Cafe for dinner. It was a lovely day and they have outdoor seating at the front, but sadly it was quite busy so we sat in the back near to an open window.

Mr B and I ordered a 'St Margarita' with vegan cheese each - I had olives and artichokes and Mr B went for vegan ham and pineapple. The pizzas are £5.95 each plus 75p for each extra topping and they don't charge extra for the vegan cheese (which many places do).
As earlier that day we'd eaten a more than amazing breakfast at Black Cat Cafe there was no room for any pudding! It's lovely that as a vegetarian cafe they have so many options for vegans and by making vegan cheese available you don't end up feeling like an afterthought. The pizza was nice, and even thoroughly enjoyed by the toddler!
If you go with a pushchair it could be a bit of a squeeze at busy times, and I didn't see a highchair (we carry around a Totseat in our changing bag - it's surprising how many places don't have highchairs!)

Monday, 10 March 2014

Peacefood Cafe - Uptown Manhattan, New York

Peacefood is another of my favorites from our trip last year. It was conveniently located so we could grab some lunch there before checking out Central Park. It is a 100% vegan cafe - in the UK we tend to get lots of vegetarian places that cater for vegans, whereas in the US I've noticed more places tend to be vegan or not at all. As with everywhere we visited whilst there, it was easy to reach by subway/ walking.

We did have to wait a fair while for a table as it was lunchtime and super busy. Whilst I waited I snapped this picture of their cakes and deserts chiller - we got some of their chocolate chip cookies to take away, but I was too stuffed to try anything else after lunch!

I had the 'fried seitan medallion $12.95 with cashew cheese, arugula, tomatoes and pesto' and Mr B had a pizza with Daiya although I don't remember exactly which one (I'm not sure it's on the menu anymore, but was slightly strange with potato as a topping!). The panini though is still something I'd class as one of the best things I ate whilst out there. The description on the menu says it comes on 'homemade focaccia' it was actually more like just slices of bread, but it was delicious anyway. Some of the seitan products I ate whilst over there were insanely good - I've tried in the past to make my own at home as it's not easy to buy in the UK but none were even close to how good it was there. I've been dreaming of recreating this sandwich ever since!

 It was also here that we picked up a copy of this really useful vegan guide. It lists all the vegan places to eat, along with a little review and important information like price range and subway line.

Dunwell Doughnuts - Brooklyn, New York

It has been almost a year since Mr B and I visited New York after getting married, so I guessed I had really better get on with it and start blogging some of the amazing vegan food we ate whilst there! Out of all the places we went, Dunwell Doughnuts is one of the most memorable. In fact Mr B follows them on Instagram and regularly drools over their pictures and wishes they were just down the road.

All their doughnuts are vegan, although they don't make a big deal of this or really advertise themselves as a vegan place. In fact we checked the website several times and asked when we arrived just to double check. I suppose this is because they are aiming for local trade as well, and judging by some reviews online many people don't realise they are eating something vegan!

The interior is pretty amazing and full of character. I'm not sure it's what an old fashioned doughnut shop would have truly looked like, but honestly it's so full of charm that doesn't matter. When we visited they had plenty of seating available and a steady stream of customers for takeaway orders.

Tempted by the delicious looking ice cream they had on offer as well as all the flavors of doughnut, we went for a sundae to combine them both. Mine was a coconut doughnut with cookies n cream ice cream and a little chocolate sauce of top. It can be described as nothing less than epic, really I've never eaten a doughnut this way - but it's pure genius. They also have various coffees and soft drinks available - we went for iced coffee as it was a lovely warm day.

Not wanting to feel like we were missing out by not getting to try their other flavours we grabbed a box of 12 to eat at our leisure over the rest of our trip.
Honestly if we go back it will be for sure one of the places we visit. The doughnuts were some of the best I've tried since becoming vegan, and it was amazing to have all that choice.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Black Cat Cafe - Hackney, London

Where do I start? I'm just going to jump right in and say I totally love this place! It's a 100% vegan not for profit cafe in Hackney in the same premises as Pogo used to be. I never visited Pogo, although I'd heard it meantioned quite a bit (I didn't often visit London whilst it was still around).
Mr B meantioned it, I saw they did vegan fry ups on a weekend and I was sold. 

The weather was lovely when we visited and with a large window that opens across the whole front of the cafe it was an amazing atmosphere. They had a large selection of vegan food items for sale as well as a big selection of books. I even spotted a few of my favorites on their shelves.

I got to try some of the Rebel Kitchen coconut based 'mylk' in orange choc flavour that I've seen lots of people raving about online recently. I thought it was divine, although Mr B & Small weren't so keen.

I had a cola float (total bargain at £1.50) and Mr B had a raspberry 'milk'shake - both were really nice and it was lovely they used my favorite cola in the float (curiosity cola).

We both had the fry up (they also do a healthy breakfast option too) and paid £1 each extra on top of the £7 standard price for a Vegusto sausage. As well as the sausage it came with tofu scramble, a redwoods 'bacon' rasher, home fries, mushrooms, beans in tomato sauce and a pancake. Honestly, it was epic! The only thing I wasn't sure about was the sweet pancake on the same plate as savoury food, but I guess that's just a personal preference. I saved it until the end then ate it with maple syrup. 
I will without a doubt be returning as soon as possible! The atmosphere was lovely (the fact that they played Morrissey/ The Smiths the whole time I was there helped too!). I love nothing more than going to 100% vegan places where offerings are well thought out - it's sad that at many v*gan places the 'VO' is just the standard version with things missing.
It was child friendly with enough room for our pushchair, and they had a high chair too. The menu changes often, but I'm lead to believe the breakfasts are every weekend.
Honestly, check it out - you 'll be glad you did!

Friday, 7 March 2014

Vegan Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes - Gluten Free, Child Friendly

I guess Sloppy Joes aren't something you find in the UK all that often, but it's something I came to love during my many childhood trips to the US. This is my vegan lentil based version which is perfect to make in the slow cooker. It's great to be able to set it and forget about it until dinner time. I usually cook it for about 8 hours on low, but all slow cooker heat settings are differant - I've had one before where warm was the equivalent of low - you'll know your slow cooker best. 


2 drained cans of water packed green lentils (or about 1 cup of dry green lentils cooked on the hob for 30 mins)
1 large white chopped onion
1/2 cup of roasted red peppers (from a jar, water packed)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
3 TBSP tomato purée
3 minced garlic cloves
1 TSP Dijon mustard
1 Tsp blackstrap molasses (or treacle)
1/2 Tsp mixed herbs
1/2 Tsp chilli flakes
1/2 Tsp cumin
1/2 Tsp smoked paprika
1/2 Tsp oregano 
1/2 cup water

Place everything in your slow cooker and give it a good stir so that all the herbs and spices are evenly distributed. Set your slow cooker for desired cooking time - it's approx 8 hours on low or 3/4 hours on high, but your slow cooker might vary.
I normally serve them with home made whole grain spelt rolls, but you could use whatever you fancy. As these are low fat and oil free I serve the rolls with vegan margarine for my toddler.